Sunday, April 1, 2007

Birkie Brevet Mar 31, 2007

This Saturday I rode the Birkie Brevet (
It was my first Brevet, and as 4 weeks ago I was in an ambulance, I was pretty delighted to be able to ride it!

200km (126 miles) is a lot of miles to do in March. This route also had about 5000 vertical feet, mostly rolling with a notable climb in the middle.

Friday night found me getting all the clothes I thought I'd need packed onto the bike and in the car bag. The weather forecast, which had been improving all week, took a decided downturn. A fellow rider had offered up his slightly shrunken wool Oregon Randonneurs jersey ("it shrunk some, but I think it would fit you..."), but I wasn't committing until I'd tried it on. Cecil was next in line after me, so I wasn't going to ask HER if the fit was ok :-)

So, wool undershirt in case I got cold, extra gloves, extra socks, wind vest if it got warm enough, arm warmers, in case that wool jersey was a short sleeve model, 2 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a banana, assorted gels and bars, spare tire, spare tube, patch kit and tire irons, multitool, the special wrench for the S&S couplers, in case they loosened (I gave them a preemptive tighten the night before), lighting, reflective vest and legbands, in case I didn't get back before dark, and a pencil for filling in my brevet card. In my bag, a change of clothes, swimsuit, towel, shower stuff. In my hydration pack, wallet, cell phone, camera, little first aid kit. Put the bike in the van the night before, got breakfast set out, water bottle with gatorade powder set out...

The alarm went off at 4:50am. Got dressed, stumbled downstairs, started the oatmeal and went to get the paper. It felt kind of balmy out there. Went upstairs, and grabbed a lighter-weight longsleeve jersey.

Collected Jason (Alvin the cat REALLY wanted to play), and we arrived at the Grand Lodge about 6:30am, carefully trying to find a parking space among all the bicyclists wandering somewhat randomly around the parking lot.

Pulled on my wool socks, riding sandals and booties. I've decided that my shoes do nothing but absorb water through my booties and make my feet iceblocks, so I left them at home. Got my bike out. Pulled on my NEW Showers Pass rain jacket ( and went to check in and then find that promised wool jersey.

There was LINE at check-in. Amazing. 73 riders! As I had preregistered, I just tossed my money at Susan and got my brevet card in return. Oh, and signed the release. visited with John K in the line. Then off to find David. The jersey fit perfectly, so I went back to the car to find my armwarmers, as it was indeed a short-sleeve model. While it was technically sunrise, it was pretty gloomy out, so I put on the reflective legbands and turned on my rear blinkies.
Marcello gave the pre-ride talk, and then it was 7am and we were off. 73 bicycles with blinkies heading through downtown Forest Grove was quite the sight. Nate rode over to check out my new bicycle (he's got a Kogswell P/R, also with 650B wheels), then pulled on ahead.

After exiting Forest Grove, we headed north and west on Gales Creek Rd, though Gales Creek, and then eventually onto Hwy 6, heading west. It was still gloomy and drizzling intermittently. After a few miles on Hwy 6, we turned north onto Timber Rd, heading toward the only real climb of the day. We rolled along through forest and farmland, then the road took a sharp right and UP. There were 3 or 4 switchbacks, opening up into a large clearcut. Then we summitted and dropped down (3 more switchbacks) through Timber itself. Then north along a creek and more farms (pretty black and white cows), crossing Hwy 26 at Timber Junction. There is no median here, you've got to make all 4 lanes in one go. Fortunately, not much traffic, so it was an uneventful crossing. Then we continued on to Vernonia, more forested areas and farms. About the time we turned left onto Hwy 47, it started to rain.

Someone rode up behind me and I heard: "wow, look at those fenders! If I had fenders like that on MY bike, I'd just hang it up on a wall, and NEVER take it out in the rain!". Then he rode by. I managed a "nice fenders" before he went on... We missed the turn into Vernonia and headed back - it didn't even LOOK like a road! Then hopped onto the bike trail and into Anderson Park, the first control, and the only staffed control (36.8 miles). Found a place to lean my bike, got my brevet card signed, and ate a brownie, a bar cookie, a cranberry muffin, a sandwich, some V-8, and a handful of salted, roasted almonds. (Before some of you fall over here, my heart rate monitor said I'd already burned through 1600 calories)

Some folks walked over to look at my bike. Someone commented that they thought it would be cleaner (this group has its share of very witty people). Bert thought it looked nicer than the last bike he'd seen me on (he was witness to the crash). I was admiring a Rivendell Saluki (Riv's other 650B bike). Turned out it belonged to Ray - we'd been hearing about each other's bike builds through the mechanics at Bike Gallery and Rickey.

I was getting cold standing around, so I pulled on my wool cap, and we headed off to the out-and-back part of the course, on Keasey Rd. Lots of pretty up-and-down through outer Vernonia. We saw many folks headed back from the control on our way out. Then Jason and I got there (41.5 miles) and filled out our cards and Jason pulled on his rain pants. I have rain pants, but I hate them, and if it isn't too cold (it wasn't), I find that my Pearl Izumi leg warmers do a very fine job of keeping me from feeling soaking wet, and they dry very quickly.

Then back, waving at the riders heading in, and turning left onto Stoney Point Rd, which took us back to Hwy 47 north of Vernonia, near a farm with many more black and white cows. Lots of riding through rolling country - forested, farms, creeks and the Nehalem River with trees right up to the riverbanks.

Then left where Apiary Road comes in, heading off to Birkenfeld. We started seeing riders heading back (this was an out-and-back route) around here. 5 miles from Birkenfeld we saw Rickey and Cecil headed back. It was a slight climb and there was a headwind, but we eventually got to the Birkenfeld Store, the control and turnaround point (66.6 miles). The clerk cheerfully signed our cards, and we bought some beverages and candy bars to go with our pbj sandwiches and Excedrin. Susan came in to visit for a bit. I got to meet Peg W. This store has been there (well, the building has been there) since about 1910, with a dance hall and all. Now it is a store (with a very complete liquor display; you don't much see that in Oregon except for state liquor stores) and deli. There is not a whole lot to Birkenfeld proper, maybe one block of buildings.

I saw the mechanic from Bike Gallery who has the seat tube from Sekai in his toolbox - we introduced ourselves again; he's Tim.

Then off again, with (oh joy!) a tailwind. We zipped eastward, with speeds of 17-19mph. Nice. When we got to the traffic light controlled single lane bridge construction, we caught up with Ray and Bill. Bill wanted to know if I still worked at Tek. He used to. I remember his name, but not the context. Ray and I spent the next 10 miles discussing our bike builds :-) and then Jason and I went on ahead. We rode with John from Olympia for awhile, and then went on, stopping in Vernonia for the control (88.4 miles). The rain had pretty much let up by then. We bought water and snacks, and chatted with John a bit, and then headed out.

We eventually got to the Hwy 26 crossing; stopped for Jason to stretch, and we chatted with Kirke J, who had the same idea. Then across the road with Ray and Bill, heading toward the Timber climb. Timber is really a teeny little place. The Post Office and Fire Station look like they were built on H-O scale (model railroad building scale). Then through the clearcut and down through the switchbacks on the other side. Jason took off, I was more cautious. Then crossing Hwy 6 again, and pulling into the last control in Glenwood (111.8 miles). We didn't buy anything here, just got them to sign our cards. I ate my banana and a Clif Shot while admiring the wall of pictures of fishermen holding really big fish, presumably hooked right there in the Wilson River.

About 3 miles on Hwy 6, with a tailwind, then right onto Gales Creek Road, with a lovely tailwind. The sun was slanting in from the west, making the fields and Gales Creek have a nice golden glow. I was starting to fade some here. My ribs were not hurting, but they were tired.

Eventually we passed Stringtown Rd, then some subdivisions, and then were in Forest Grove proper. Through downtown, left on Quince (Hwy 47) left into the Grand Lodge... Marcello was waiting to sign and collect our cards. We finished a few minutes before 6pm, so our total elapsed time was just under 11 hours; riding time of 9 hours. My odometer said 127.5 miles.

Then greetings to Rickey and Susan ("you finished! how do you feel?"), a long soak in the hot pool, and then dinner, where we were joined by Jason's wife and daughter.

Then home, where (slight aside here; puts on Proud-Mother-Persona) I learned that Rebecca had gotten the Big Envelope from the UO Graduate School of Architecture, I put some stuff away, took pre-emptive ibuprofen, and read for a bit before falling asleep...

Sorry, I didn't take any pictures, but Nate, Cecil and David did: (the last 5 pictures)

equipment notes:
  • Bicycle - the Bleriot was outstanding. I still got knots in my shoulders, but I always do. Being able to ride no-hands from time to time did help.
  • Showers Pass Elite rain jacket - this is the first rain jacket I have ever owned. It is worth Every Single Penny it cost. I did not overheat in it; it vented wonderfully. For amusement, at the beginning of the ride, I could play "count the Showers Pass jackets" in the parking lot...
  • Sandals, socks and booties work better for me than shoes, socks and booties.
  • Wool jerseys are really nice.
  • for gloves, I mostly wore half-finger gloves over my Smartwool liner gloves. If the rain got insistent, I pulled the Mountain Hardwear conduit gloves over that, but I knew they'd give it up if it rained for more than 2 hours. Fortunately, it didn't.

Other:I'm looking at the updated route for the Three Capes Brevet (300k) in a couple of weeks. The route looks greatly improved from last year's route... Starting at 6am, I'd probably finish somewhere around 11pm. Hmm. I'd be somewhere around Amity when it got dark...

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